Optimize Omnichannel Fulfillment for the Holiday Season

We’re just a quick block and jingle bell ring away from the holiday season — a high stakes, strategically coordinated shopping season retailers strive to perfect each and every year. 

At this point, inventory assortment plans and buys have been squared away.

However, once the frantic shopping frenzy ensues, the scale of orders coming through (from any and all channels) becomes increasingly difficult to manage. When an e-commerce purchase is made, retailers are bending over backwards to meet customer expectations even at the expense of a more profitable sale.

“[O]nline sales are growing at a respectable rate for many omnichannel retailers in large part because they continue to bear nearly all the associated costs of attracting and accommodating online shoppers, while their store-based sales often languish.” - WWD

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Topics: holidays, ecommerce, holiday shopping, fulfillment optimization, cross-channel demand, advanced analytics, customer preference, order fulfillment, demand prediction

An Interview with Aldo’s Sr. Director of E-Commerce on Predictive Analytics

If you’re familiar with Celect, then you know how excited we are about our latest press release, which announces our recent partnership with multinational footwear retailer, ALDO Group.

For those of you who haven’t heard—here’s the lowdown on the announcement:

By leveraging predictive analytics, Celect is providing Aldo with unique insights on customer demand to help optimize the fulfillment of online orders across its global network of stores.

Which brings me to my next point:  

Total Retail just released an exclusive interview with ALDO Group's Director of E-commerce Operations, Marc Chretien, to talk about his experience with Celect and Aldo’s omnichannel fulfillment efforts: 

“Customers have become very flexible in their purchasing patterns and have embraced omnichannel, leading them to expect these options from retailers. […] A strategy that ALDO Group has adopted is placing the most possible inventory in-store (vs. distribution centers) where both the walk-in and the digital customer can access it. The Celect technology is a great compliment to that strategy and allows ALDO Group to more accurately predict customers’ demands in real time and, subsequently, determine which stores have inventory opportunities.“Marc Chretien, Sr. Director of E-commerce Operations at ALDO Group

The Q&A provides some additional insights into how Aldo is adapting to the changing consumer and leaning on predictive analytics to make better, faster and more profitable order fulfillment decisions.

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Topics: predictive analytics, fulfillment, ship-from-store, fulfillment optimization, advanced analytics, order fulfillment

How to Exceed Customer Delivery Expectations Through Order Fulfillment

“Consumer centricity is increasingly necessary for retailers and brands to maintain loyalty within highly saturated markets. Launching technology that not only delivers shipments in an expedited and efficient manner while subsequently optimizing current inventory levels will improve margins.” - WWD 

According to the NRF, Father’s Day spending for 2018 is expected to reach $15.3 billion dollars and more than one third of all shoppers are expected to buy something online.

I’m definitely one of those shoppers this year.

As I narrow down the search for my dad’s gift, shipping cost and delivery speed are by far one of the top deciding factors. 

While, admittedly, waiting the week before Father’s Day could have something to do with this (guilty), the data behind online delivery expectations say otherwise:

This “Amazon Effect” (so it’s been dubbed) is bringing the heat to retailers big and small, and urging many to discover ways to focus their current supply chain around the customer. 

Especially when it comes to the “last mile” as many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers realize one of the best ways to implement a “customer centric” approach is to capitalize on proximity – i.e., their physical stores.   

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Topics: localization, fulfillment optimization, cross-channel demand, advanced analytics, customer preference, order fulfillment

3 Ways Ship From Store Fulfillment Can Help Master Cross-Channel Demand

Unfortunately, anticipating demand isn’t as straight-forward as it once was. People shop whenever and wherever, leveraging each and every available retail channel.

This makes it really difficult for retailers nowadays.

Increased access also increases consumer expectations across channels—shoppers expect a seamless experience and alignment among brands, products, and choices both physically and digitally. To keep up, retailers must enable a cohesive cross-channel experience through their offerings, including product assortment, purchase, delivery, and return options. 

However, it’s really difficult for retailers to provide this seamless, integrated experience in a profitable way.

Unfortunately, you have no choice.

Mastering cross-channel demand is critical if you want to succeed in the retail industry, despite the challenges it presents. 

This is why many retailers today are incorporating a ship-from-store (SFS) strategy to help overcome the difficulties cross-channel demand entails. The key advantage of SFS (if done right) is that it allows retailers to provide the differentiated experience consumers seek via better delivery offerings, in a profitable and cost-effective way.

Here are 3 ways ship from store fulfillment can help retailers master cross-channel demand:

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Topics: shipping, e-commerce, ship-from-store, inventory optimization, order delivery, fulfillment optimization, cross-channel demand

Retail Safety Stock – Do You Even Need It?

“Determining appropriate inventory levels is one of the most important and most challenging tasks faced by operations managers. If you carry too much inventory, you tie up money in working capital; if you don’t carry enough inventory, you face stockouts.”Crack the Code: Understanding Safety Stock and Mastering Its Equations, MIT

Overstocks and out-of-stocks. A double-edged sword.

If your store runs out of product when unexpected demand hits the fence, it’s a missed opportunity. On the other hand, a store stocked with too much product almost always leads to markdowns and profit loss—another missed opportunity.

This is how the typical song and dance between planning for inventory safety stocks goes. Traditionally, retailers try to anticipate fluctuations in future demand, yet, most of the time, fail to do so accurately.

Given the recent pressures across the industry to improve performance as margins shrink and store foot traffic falls—retailers are scrambling to improve sell-through rates, decrease markdowns, and increase profit. Which is challenging when you’re constantly making the wrong bets in the wrong places.

The art of finding this balance between making sure you have the right inventory on hand is HARD.

In fact, it’s one of the biggest challenges retailers face today, and, in the most simplistic terms—it’s having the right product, at the right place, at the right time.

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Topics: e-commerce, inventory optimization, order delivery, safety stock, fulfillment optimization

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